Ecology of testate amoebae (Protozoa : Rhizopoda) in Sphagnum peatlands in the Jura mountains, Switzerland and France
Testate amoebae (Protozoa) living in Sphagnum peatlands are important environmental and paleoecological indicators. The distribution of these animals is closely related to soil moisture variables. This study examines the ecology of sphagnicolous testate amoebae near the southern limit of bogs in Europe. A total of 64 samples were collected for analysis of testate amoebae from six peatlands in the Jura region of Switzerland and France. Eleven site-specific ecological variables, six of which were soil-moisture related variables, were measured at each site. The data were subjected to weighted averaging, jack-knifing, cluster analysis, canonical correspondence analysis, and the indicator value method to model relationships between testate amoebae distributions and environmental variables. Testate amoebae abundance showed a direct relationship with pear pH and depth to water table. Strong relationships were with sites that had a water table less than 41 cm deep. In drier sites with water table depth greater than 41 cm, other factors such as soil porosity and water holding capacity were more important compared to the wetter sites. Though there was a strong relationship between restate amoebae faunas and soil moisture content and porosity, these two variables could not be confidently predicted. Testate amoebae in peatlands in this region appear to be sensitive to peat pH and water tables. Further work is needed to explore relationships between restate amoebae, soil moisture, and porosity.